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Keywords:

  • Place-identity;
  • conversation analysis;
  • focus groups;
  • stance;
  • stories;
  • arguments;
  • qualitative research methods

Many social research projects, such as interviews, focus groups, and surveys, take local place as a given: they choose participants from a particular place, take this place as background for what the participants say, ask them about place-related issues, and correlate responses with different places. But people can identify places in different ways, in geographical or relational terms, and in different levels of scale. This study analyses passages in focus groups in which participants say where they are from, shows that participants generally take the question and answer as routine, and then shows the ways the interaction develops when this routineness is broken, amended, or called into question. When a participant revises their statement of where they are from, they adapt to what they see as the knowledge and stance of their interlocutor, they re-present themselves, and they create possibilities for further talk, defending, telling stories, or showing entitlement to an opinion. I argue that the ways people answer this question, interactively, can tell us about them, and us, as well as about their map of the world.